White whale heading north

Published 18 June 2004

Southern Cross University whale researchers will be keeping a keen eye out for the white whale, Migaloo, following reported sightings of the whale off Sydney this week.

Daniel Burns, a PhD student with SCU’s Whale Research Centre, said there had been multiple reports of the whale off Sydney on Thursday (June 17).

“We would expect we might be able to see it off Cape Byron around about Wednesday, although we are hoping it might be a bit later to coincide with the start of our annual whale survey on Saturday (June 26),” Mr Burns said.

There was intense interest in Migaloo last year and SCU researchers successfully called for an exclusion zone of 500 metres around the whale after it was injured in an encounter with a trimaran off Townsville.

Mr Burns said the whale, named Migaloo, was first recorded off Byron in 1992 by the Australian Whale Conservation Society.

“It has been seen on and off since then and there were a number of sightings last year. It has also been reported off Hervey Bay in 1992, 1993 and 1998 by SCU researchers Wally and Trish Franklin.

“We think from behavioural observations that it is likely to be an adult male, probably about 10-metres long. We think it is an albino and it’s the only one in the population as far as we know.”

Mr Burns said part of SCU’s research involved analysing skin samples which fell off in the water and they were hopeful of obtaining a sample from Migaloo.

He said while the sightings of the white whale were likely to generate curiosity, it was important that people obeyed the legislation and did not harass the whale.

Anyone who spots Migaloo is asked to contact the SCU Whale Research Centre on 66269401 or 66203774, email whales@scu.edu.au

Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.